Patents Are in Vogue

Over the past 12 to 18 months, patents have been a growing concern in the smartphone and larger mobile ecosystem. With the pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility (MMI) by Google (GOOG), on-again lawsuits between Apple (AAPL) and Samsung, Motorola and others, as well as ensuing countersuits, patents and intellectual property have transformed from nice-to-haves to need-to-haves. That's part of the reason Google purchased patents from IBM (IBM), and why Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) led a consortium that won beleaguered Nortel's patent pool last year. 

The race to build a patent war chest to be used for either offensive or defensive moves against competitors is not contained to the mobile ecosystem. Last month, Yahoo! (YHOO) informed Facebook that it had infringed on more than a dozen of its patents. This month, Yahoo! sued Facebook, alleging it had infringed on 10 patents related to online messaging, advertising, Internet privacy and other technologies. While Yahoo! has more than 1000 U.S. patents, Facebook had just 56 patents issued in the U.S. as of the end of last year and roughly 500 patent applications, according to regulatory filings. Given that relatively weak position on an issued-patent basis, Facebook acquired more than 750 patents from IBM (IBM) over the weekend, which should help bolster its position and allow it to countersue or enter into cross-licensing agreements, rather than get caught in long and costly legal battles. ...269 more words left in this article. To read them, just click below and try Real Money FREE for 14 days.

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